On December 9, 2009, the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 168 (An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace and other matters). Though the Act comes into force 6 months after receiving Royal Assent many employers are try to proactively get a handle on what the legislation requires.
Specifically, and among other things, Section 32.0.1 of the Act requires an employer to prepare policies with respect to workplace violence and workplace harassment, and to review the policies at least annually while Section 32.0.2 requires an employer to develop a program to implement the workplace violence policy. The program must include measures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment and set out how the employer will deal with incidents and complaints of workplace harassment.
The impact of domestic violence on the workplace and the employers responsibility to take action has been much in the news. Under section 32.0.4 of the Act, if an employer is aware or ought to be aware that domestic violence that is likely to expose a worker to physical injury may occur in the workplace, the employer must take every reasonable precaution to protect the worker.
This legislation is huge and the obligations on the employer are both new and profound. This post just touches the surface. Employers are well advised to proactively address what the legislation requires of them and this is way more than simply putting together a policy.